A Great White Shark is believed responsible for killing a South African swimmer.
Two great white sharks killed following WA attack. Reuters

Two great white sharks have been caught and killed after a surfer was attacked off a beach near Esperance, Western Australia.

Sean Pollard, 23, lost his arm and hand in the attack near Wylie Bay, a popular surfing spot, and is currently being treated in hospital for his injuries.

The WA Fisheries Department said beaches remain closed following the incident, and that two great white sharks have been caught following the attack. However, it is not known if either were responsible for the attack.

"The two sharks caught yesterday are being transported to Perth for further examination by the Department's experts and will be retained for research," the department said in a statement.

"Even upon examination it may not be possible to confirm that either shark was involved in the incident this morning. It is common for sharks to disgorge stomach contents."

One of the sharks killed was between three and 4.5m in size. WA Fisheries said they expect beaches in the area to remain closed for several days and advised swimmers to stay out of the water.

The attack comes just weeks after the decision by the WA government to abandon its controversial shark cull.

The cull, that used baited drum lines to catch sharks, was widely condemned by opposition leaders, academics and animal rights activists, who said the cull was inhumane and ineffective. The lines put out to catch sharks were over 3m, but hundreds more were killed in the process after getting tangled in the nets.

Dave Kelly, shadow fisheries minister, said: "Every (fatal) shark attack in WA in the last 10 years is believed to be ... from a great white shark. Even on that basic measure this policy has been a failure.

"You can't say you're responding to the spate of fatal shark attacks seen here in WA if you're not catching the shark everybody believes is responsible."

Wylie Bay, where Pollard was attacked, would not have been protected by drum lines, Premier Colin Barnett said.